Russell Ingall has described the Sky City Triple Crown at Hidden Valley as a step forward for Paul Morris Motorsport after finishing fifth in Race 13 today.
The Supercheap Auto Commodore driver mirrored the winning tyre strategy of Shane van Gisbergen – pitting for the soft compound Dunlops on Lap 47 of 69.
Assisted by the late-race Safety Car (and the remainder of the pitstop cycle), Ingall then climbed from 14th to fifth to take his best result of the season.
“We’ve definitely made a bit of a leap,” Ingall told Speedcafe.com after Race 13, which saw the 2005 V8 Supercars Champion move from 26th to 23rd in the points standings.
“It was only probably the SBR (Stone Brothers Racing) cars that were faster than us (in the final stint) – I think we had everyone else covered. They were pretty speedy, but they always have been on the soft tyres, they’ve got a good set-up.
“I think we were the quickest Commodore on the soft tyres, I think we were matching Craig (Lowndes, second place finisher) alright, so we can’t really whinge about that.”
Ingall put the impressive race performance down to improved qualifying speed, which saw the #39 entry emerge 10th fastest from the morning’s 20 minute session.
Renowned for struggling in qualifying, Ingall had been 18th on the grid on Saturday, while his team-mate Steve Owen made the top 10 shootout.
“Some old, same old – it’s a qualifying championship,” said Ingall.
“If you qualify at the pointy end you have a good day, and if you qualify at the blunt end you have a bad day. It’s a shame it’s like that.
“We were on for a good qualifying yesterday, but I messed the last corner up on our fast lap and speared off. That cost us a top 10, so yesterday wasn’t really representative of where we should have been.”
Ingall finished 23rd in Saturday’s Race 12, despite setting the fastest lap of the race.
Owen finished 10th and 14th in the two races, having bizarrely switched from soft to hard tyres after the formation lap for Sunday’s race.